Stories of Changemakers: Videos from Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day

Started by a class of AAA School Safety Patrollers, Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day has turned into a nationwide movement. In 2022, over 343,000 students across 1,400 schools took part in honor of Ruby's brave walk to school. We had the chance to visit a few of the schools who have participated to hear how this day of dialogue is creating positive change in their communities.

Martin Elementary School

As the founding school of Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day, Martin Elementary School has been participating in a Day of Dialogue since 2018. Last year, students, elected officials and other community members gathered at City Hall before walking back to school to host student-led presentations on their ideas to improve their school and community. Watch their video to learn more about what Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day means to them.

Burbank Elementary School

As a part of their Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day celebration, Burbank Elementary School gathered class representatives from each classroom and hosted meaningful discussions about what it means to make a difference. On the day of their walk, the school elected student leaders to present speeches before walking back to school alongside family, friends and community members. Watch to learn more.

Ruby Bridges Elementary School

As Ruby’s first namesake school, Ruby Bridges Elementary felt the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day was an important day to honor Ruby and inspire students to create positive change. Last year, the school hosted musical performers at an outdoor assembly and walked past Ruby’s statue back into school. Individual classrooms shared their learning through writing and art that was showcased at the District office.

Pleasant Grove High School

The Black Student Union at Pleasant Grove High School took charge and advocated for the adoption of the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day at their school. These students presented a resolution at their school board meeting and it was passed, officially recognizing the day every November 14. Last year, they were featured on the local news as their school participated in a “walk in” (vs a walk-out). Watch their video to learn more.

Congratulations, 2023 Award Winners!

The 2023 Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Award recognizes schools that participated in 2022’s Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day and deepened their commitment to the cause by engaging in a Day of Dialogue. Read more about this year’s award winners and how they will be using their award funding to continue creating positive change in their communities. for.

Roundtable Discussions Seek to Address Bullying (Chandler, AZ)

Frye Elementary took an innovative approach to their Day of Dialogue by engaging their student council representatives in a roundtable discussion. The students identified bullying as a key issue at the school and pledged to take action to stop it by standing up to bullies and informing adults. The students also addressed the pressing global issues of school violence and pollution and discussed the need for systemic change, including stricter laws and accountability for those in power. The student representatives demonstrated impressive insight and empathy throughout their discussion, reflecting their commitment to creating a better world. 

Highschoolers Mobilize to Engage Young Readers (Madera, CA)

Madera South High School’s Black Student Union (BSU) organized a Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day in partnership with Alpha Elementary. With copies of “I Am Ruby Bridges” in tow, they read to the elementary students and donated all copies to their classrooms. The BSU plans to make this an annual event and expand it to other schools in the district. They also plan to involve local organizations and parents, offering incentives like coffee and doughnuts. Their Day of Dialogue has inspired the BSU to plan more events, including a Juneteenth conference, a district-wide BSU welcome back event, and a collaborative mural project promoting social justice. The BSU hopes to continue fostering positive change in their community and beyond.

Hosting Conversations on How to Be Anti-Racist (Hayward, CA)

Burbank Elementary celebrated Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day by having students learn about Ruby Bridges’ history and make posters to prepare for the walk. Students, families, and community members walked from Hayward City Hall to Burbank Elementary, chanting and reflecting on Ruby Bridges’ efforts. Following the walk, 15 students from 3rd to 6th grade gathered together to have a discussion about what it means to make a difference and how to practice being anti-racist. They decided to organize an event to invite their families to talk more about how to practice being anti-racist and gain the support of their families and their community before their next Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.

 

Join the Movement

Sign up for the 2023 Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day here.

Congratulations, 2023 Award Winners!

Thank you for submitting applications for our annual awards program. Congratulations to all the exceptional Patrollers and Patrol Advisors who were nominated for our AAA School Safety Patrol Awards program this year. Your efforts in ensuring the safety of your school and community are greatly appreciated. Our awards honor the dedication and leadership of these students and Advisors.

School Safety Patrollers

  • Brandan Kry, La Rosa Elementary
  • Kaitlyn Heflin, Haman Elementary School
  • Noah McKay, Ione Elementary
  • Aidan Zortman, Litchfield Elementary
  • Isla Oswald, Southland Elementary
  • Brandon Gonzales, St. Vincent Ferrer School

School Safety Patrol Advisors

  • Jyevonne Saffold, Brighton Charter School
  • Sonia Russell, Cleveland Elementary

Honorable Mentions

  • Maryam Afzal, School Safety Patroller, Granada Islamic School
  • Nia Redmond, School Safety Patroller, Laurel Elementary
  • Jordan Lim, School Safety Patroller, Martin Elementary
  • Soraya Jones, School Safety Patroller,St Teresa of Avila School
  • Irma Ortiz, School Safety Patrol Advisor, Hoover Elementary

Day of Dialogue Discussion Prompts

Please take time to give these questions thought and discuss them with your class. The goal is to get students thinking about ways they can be a changemaker for good at their school or in their community. Use these questions to guide students’ ideas, and generate ideas to submit for the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Award.

Prompts

  • Is there anything you would want to change in the world? What is it?
  • Why do you think the issue you identified is important?
  • What are some small changes that you can make to get closer to that change? What would be the benefits of the small changes you identified? Are there ways to help others learn how to make small changes?
  • Who are people that are involved in the issue? Or who would you need support from to make change?

For more in-depth learning, download the Day of Dialogue: A Teacher’s Project Guide to Supporting Changemakers to help students reflect, discuss and take action. For any questions about the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Award or application process, please contact CommunityImpact@norcal.aaa.com.

Prepare for the 2022-2023 AAA School Safety Awards

Tips to Prepare

  • Decide who you will nominate
  • Read 2022-23 AAA School Safety Patrol Awards Prep below
  • Alert your nominees to start their essays for the application

Check Out the Available Awards 

AAA wants to recognize AAA School Safety Patrollers and Advisors who best exemplify leadership qualities and perform their duties with excellence. We are also proud to announce a new grant award for select schools that went above and beyond during the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.

Winners receive grants up to $2,000 for their school. The 2022-23 awards include:

  • Patroller of the Year
  • Patrol Advisor of the Year
  • Lifesaving Medal
  • NEW: Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Award

Applications and more information are coming soon!

2022-23 AAA School Safety Patrol Awards Prep

Patroller of The Year Award: 

Examples of Nominee Qualifications

Leadership Qualities (15 points): Examples may include communication skills, record-keeping, attendance, care of patrol equipment or leadership positions in AAA School Safety Patrol, school or the community. (500 character limit)

Safety Skills (15 points): Examples may include knowledge of patrol responsibilities, control of post, awareness of traffic dangers, understanding of emergency procedures, and efficiency in seeking adult guidance. (500 character limit)

School Involvement (10 points): Examples may include academic grades, school attendance and participation in activities such as newsletter, yearbook, clubs or sports. (500 character limit)

Citizenship/Volunteerism (10 points): Examples may include participation in outreach programs such as food or book drives, services as a student tutor, school events or community events. (500 character limit)

Student Essay: “How participating in my AAA School Safety Patrol helped me become a better leader.” The essay can be submitted in writing (2,500 character limit) or as a short video (2 minute limit). The nominee should state their Patroller responsibilities, dates of services, identify leadership qualities they value, and explain how participation in the patrol program allowed them to develop these leadership qualities.

Patrol Advisor of the Year Award: 

Examples of Nominee Qualifications

Strong belief in the value of the program (15 points): Examples may include support of the program’s lifesaving and educational benefits, lobbying to advance the program, adding value to the program in the school and community or communicating the program’s core values to faculty and students. (500 character limit)

Knowledge of traffic safety principles (15 points): Examples may include general understanding of all facets of the program or awareness of traffic dangers, emergency procedures, traffic interaction, safe pedestrian practices, school bus loading/unloading zones or school zones.

Leadership Skills (10 points): Examples may include morale-building, traffic safety education, organization, program coordination, conducting meetings and trainings, success with distance learning/hybrid models, supervision of patrol duties or obtaining program buy-in from the school and local community. (500 character limit)

Dedication to the program (10 points): Examples may include volunteerism, dependability, efforts above and beyond the expected Advisor role or additional benefits to the students’ safety, leadership and education. (500 character limit)

Patrol Advisor Essay: How has participating in AAA School Safety Patrol helped to educate and motivate students? Please include your dates of participation in the program, the benefits that the program has on the students and how your contributions have enhanced Patrollers’ education and motivation.

Lifesaving Medal:

Persons involved

  • Patroller information
  • Person rescued information

Date and Location

  • Date of Action
  • Time of action
  • Intersection (name of cross streets)
  • # of Feet from Nearest Street
  • Direction (North, South, East, West)
  • Posted Speed Limit (mph)
  • Volume of Traffic (Heavy, Moderate, Light)

Vehicles Involved

  • Driver’s full name (first, middle, last)

    1. Address (City, State, Zip)
    2. Type of Vehicle
    3. Condition of vehicle
    4. Damage to other vehicles or property
  • Action of driver
    1. Violations (exceeding speed limit, etc.):
    2. Did the driver issue a summons?
    3. Valid license?

Conditions

  • Weather (Clear, Cloudy, Raining, Snowing, Fog)
  • Road conditions (Dry, Wet, Snow, Ice, Slick (mud/oil))
  • Road surface (Concrete, Asphalt, Brick, Gravel, Unpaved)
  • Locality (Industrial, Shopping/Business, School Playground, Residential)

Description of Occurrence

  • Rescued person was (On the way to school, Going home, etc)
  • Rescued person used route (Always, Frequently, Rarely)
  • Rescued person’s clothing (Light, Dark, Other)
  • Traffic lanes (Unmarked, Marked, Separated)
  • Traffic controls (None, Signs, Traffic Signs, Pedestrian Control Devices, Police Officer, Adult Crossing Guard)

Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Award:

More Information Coming January!

For any questions about the AAA School Safety Patrol Awards or application process, please contact CommunityImpact@norcal.aaa.com.

 

Meet Sophia from Granada Islamic School

Sophia teaches at Granada Islamic School in Santa Clara, California. We are thrilled to showcase Sophia’s impact on safety and building leadership with their students, community, and the AAA School Safety Patrol program.

Background: 

Sophia Asiff has run the AAA School Safety Patrol Program at Granada Islamic School for the past six years and with a group of 36 Patrollers this school year. Sophia is an involved Nominator for her Patrollers in the annual AAA School Safety Patrol Awards

Experience:

While using the AAA School Safety Lesson Plans, Sophia expressed that the bullying topic was the most impactful and relevant part of the lesson plan for her students. Sophia felt, “…the students really benefited from the lessons on bullying, they have often dealt with situations that could be labeled as bullying, and this aspect of the AAA School Safety Patrol lessons gave my students new ways to work through such situations.” 

In addition to important topics, Sophia attests to the convenience of the lesson plans, “The AAA School Safety lesson plans made it easier for me to teach the students about things like leadership and safety because instead of having to search for and create my own plans they were already created for me. The lesson plans are very user-friendly and make it fun and easy to teach different, student-centered concepts.”

“I feel that the students really benefited from the lessons on bullying, they have often
dealt with situations that could be labelled as bullying and this aspect of the AAA
School Safety Patrol lessons gave my students new ways to work through such
situations.”

Proudest Moment: 

Sophia encourages her Patrollers to try their best and take positive risks, like applying for award programs. Her Patrollers have won second and third place in the Santa Clara Safety Patrol Awards for two consecutive years. She also shares, “ I have been extremely proud of all my students who have won AAA Safety Patroller of the year since I began working as the Safety Patrol Advisor at our school.”

Advice:

Sophia impels current and prospective Patrol Advisors not to give up on leading the position because she believes, “Although it is a lot of extra work, it is very fulfilling and allows a teacher to connect with the students on a different level.” 

Sophia Asiff, 2021-2022

Get Ready for the 2022-2023 School Year

School is back in session, meaning a new group of students have the opportunity to become leaders in the AAA School Safety Patrol program. Check out the latest resources and announcements below to support the year ahead for your program.

Update Your Enrollment

Schools are encouraged to re-enroll every year so we can actively support the incoming students by providing new equipment and resources to help your program run smoothly. Schools can visit the  registration page to re-enroll and order equipment in two minutes or less.

New Resources!

We’re actively seeking new ways AAA can help your Patrol thrive. We’re thrilled to share two additional offerings, new for the 2022-2023 school year:

  • Patrol Advisor Grants: AAA is thrilled to introduce our new grant program to support Title 1 schools. If selected, a school will receive a $5,000 grant to help fund an AAA School Safety Patrol Advisor to compensate for their time, participation, and efforts in the program. Applications for the 2022-23 AAA School Safety Patrol Advisor Grant are due by September 26th. Grantees will be informed on a rolling basis. Apply and learn more about the Patrol Advisor Grant program here.
  • Patrol Operation Guide Checklist: AAA has developed an Operation Guide Checklist to support schools and Patrol Advisors in starting and running the AAA School Safety Patrol Program at their schools. The Operation Guide Checklist organizes the tasks Patrol Advisors and schools can do to run their program. Download the Operation Guide Checklist on this page. 

Save the Date! Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day

Monday, November 14, 2022 is Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day, a student-led movement started by our very own AAA School Safety Patrollers in South San Francisco. Register your school through the link below to be eligible for a free school kit, downloadable resources and to apply for a grant up to $1,000 to kickstart your school’s walk.

Register Here

Celebrate Outstanding Advisors

Meet Mike from Ione Elementary in Ione, CA. Mike has led the AAA School Safety Patrol program at Ione Elementary for seven years and used the AAA School Safety Lesson Plan for three years. We are proud to recognize Mike’s dedication to safety, student leadership, and the AAA School Safety program. Read more about his experience, proudest moments, and advice here.

Meet Mike from Ione Elementary

Mike is a teacher at Ione Elementary in Ione, California. We are proud to recognize Mike's dedication to safety, student leadership, and the AAA School Safety program.

Background: 

Mike Huss has led the AAA School Safety Patrol program at Ione Elementary for seven years and used the AAA School Safety Lesson Plan for three years. In 2021, Mike was awarded the AAA National School Safety Patrol Advisor of the Year. 

Experience:

Huss explains, “Combining both the Patrol program and in-class safety lessons allows for real-world connections and understanding.” For the lesson plans specifically, Huss shares, “In the hecticness of a school year, I don’t have to worry about spending time creating the lesson plans. AAA has done all the work for me. They are designed well, are easy to use, and are easy to adjust and apply to my students’ lives.” 

“Despite the hard work, you will not find a more rewarding campus leadership program than the AAA School Safety Patrol Program.”

Proudest Moment: 

Huss shared that his proudest moment of being a Patrol Advisor was a few years ago when he worked with a student against many staff members’ heed not due to academic and behavioral challenges. “About a month into the school year, he stopped disrupting classes, homework and classwork started to get done, and he started standing up for others instead of being the bully.” The student’s transformation was not only noticeable to others, it was also to themselves. “Slowly, he saw himself in a new light. He still made mistakes, but he took responsibility for them. He developed as a leader. When his teacher asked him what had changed, he said it was important to him to be a safety patrol team member and he had to change or he’d be removed from the team.” 

Advice:

To any adult thinking about becoming a Patrol Advisor, Huss urges them to think beyond the concerns of being too busy. “Despite the hard work, you will not find a more rewarding campus leadership program than the AAA School Safety Patrol Program…The growth you see in your Patrollers and the positive change you will see on your campus is well worth saying ‘YES’ to taking on this campus leadership role.”

Huss’s last piece of advice is, “for current advisors, remember to include all students, not just the outgoing, popular students. A student who has had issues following school rules might just change their course on campus and in life if you allow them to take on the leadership role of being a safety patrol team member. That shy kid might become that confident leader and stand up to the bullies. I’ve seen it.”

Mike Huss, 2021-2022

Resources for Educators on Gun Violence in Schools

Classroom Resources, Communication Tips, and Other Support

In light of the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas involving the loss of 19 children and 2 adult educators, AAA School Safety has pulled together a list of reputable resources and educational materials for you to use with your class or student(s).

CLASSROOM RESOURCES

For lessons to support with trauma and the recent school shooting, try the resources below:

RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS/EDUCATORS

If you are an adult, parent, educator, or youth development worker looking for tips or ideas for addressing school shootings with a youth, try:

OTHER SUPPORT

Crisis Text Line

    • Offers free, 24/7, high-quality text-based mental health support. Text SHARE to 741741 or reach out on Facebook messenger. Messages are monitored 9:30-5:30pm ET, M-F.

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline

    • Call or text 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press “2”) to be connected to a trained counselor 24/7/365

If you know other educators or parents/caregivers who would be interested in this content, please forward them this page.

 

Congratulations, Melody!

Celebrating our National Award Winner, Melody Lai

One Patroller is selected for a National AAA School School Safety Patrol award every year. The 2022 National Patroller of The Year winner, Melody Lai, demonstrated exemplary safety and leadership skills despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. We are proud to recognize the important work she has done for the AAA School Safety Patrol program, her school, and her community.

2022 National Award Video

Congratulations to the following 2022 National Award Winner:

  • AAA National School Safety Patroller of the Year, Melody Lai, Martin Elementary, South San Francisco, CA

Read more about Melody Lai’s story:

Melody joined School Safety Patrol and became Captain after returning to in-person schooling when schools reintegrate the program. Melody recounts, “This year, we had to start fresh and learn fast. I am proud that we have made our team even better than before!”

Through participation in the program, Melody has matured as a young leader. She shares the following lessons she’s learned along the way: “As a captain, I have learned the importance of strength, honesty, and confidence. Strength helps me fight through problems and to speak out against bullying. Honesty helps my team to believe in me and trust me. Confidence helps me to be strong and honest. This will help me to have a better life.”

After joining the School Safety Patrol, Melody created the Sugar Club at her school. She and other students spend their recess and time after school spreading messages of positivity. Melody hopes to continue growing this club in middle school.

Melody continued her mission of spreading positivity and wrote a letter to Ruby Bridges to show her support and continued her efforts by raising awareness for the Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day to her neighbors.

When Melody noticed a rise in Asian hate, she took action to help vulnerable members in her community. As she says, “We should never judge people for the way they look. This is NOT kind. To make a positive change, I have tried to comfort elderly people in Chinatown and to tell them that they are safe here. I have written letters to police officers to thank them for walking elderly people across the street to keep them safe.”

AAA congratulates and thanks Melody Lai for her initiative and contributions to the program and community.